Historically, H-1B visas have been the U.S. employment visa of choice due to their flexibility for professionals to work in “specialty occupations.” Lately, however, for those employers and prospective employees who are subject to the annual numerical “cap” on H-1Bs, the demand far outstrips the quota. Petitions must be filed in the first week of April in order to be included in a lottery from which a limited number will be selected for employment beginning the following October 1. In addition, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has increased its requests for additional evidence for selected petitions, which require special attention to the subject position’s qualification as an H-1B “specialty occupation.”
This alert is a reminder of the April 2, 2018 opening date for filing cap-subject H-1B visa petitions for Fiscal Year 2019. Petitions for the new fiscal year, which will be effective starting on or after October 1, 2018, will be accepted by the Government beginning April 2, 2018, and will likely continue through April 6. USCIS will continue to accept cap-subject H-1B petitions after April 6, but only if and until USCIS determines that a sufficient number has been received. Accepted petitions are then entered into random lotteries in which limited numbers of petitions are selected for processing.